190 – Daren Hull of West Elm – Because of Experience

Using digital tech to create retail experiences with West Elm…

Daren Hull, SVP Technology, Stores at West Elm Digital at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (a retail store that features contemporary furniture designs and other housewares – (bio)), joins Pavan Bahl, Rob Sanchez, and Marc Raco and guest host Pau Sabria, Co-Founder/CEO of Olapic [Episode 186], on location in Las Vegas for Shoptalk 2017. This episode is powered by Olapic.

Great stories, a high digital IQ, and machine learning

Hull discusses creating great experiences with brands, a great story with great products and services. Heading that direction is what matters, including the integration of team, bringing digital back into the offline world, their new augmented reality app, making sure there’s a high digital IQ across various teams, and connection between home and the store. The interview gets awkward (in a fun way) when team building reveals poaching. Plus, a teaching machine learning to speak and understand cultural variances.

Education, active communication and collaborations

Making associates better vs. digital signage etc., making friction disappear vs. new experiences, interest in experimenting with sensors, and observing behavior and psychology, anticipating needs, and West Elm’s focus on providing people with the info they want. Merchandising stores efficiently, education as a gap they are trying to fill, arming associates to inspire and educate the consumer, how digital is aiding store layout, how West Elm has become a leader in the space, looking at influencers to tell stories, why omnichannel isn’t a good idea, why we like text and chat messaging, and how shopping requires more active communication. Social shopping, aligned collaborations that create great social moments, and partnering products for synergy.

Finger-painting, remaking a movie, and keeping it simple

Off the Grid Questions cover being easily distracted, finger-painting violence, why marrying a designer made sense, remaking “The Untouchables”, a sadistic book recommendation, escaping on a plane, being distractible, and why keeping things simple and picking what you’re good at matters in the face of a flood of amazing technology.


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